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The COMPASS Group > September 2012

2012 Taichung Jazz Festival Artist Spotlight: Ellis Marsalis Trio & Jason Marsalis

2012 Taichung Jazz Festival Artist Spotlight: Ellis Marsalis Trio & Jason Marsalis

Words by Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu

In the world of American jazz, it would be near impossible to top the Marsalis family when it comes to musical accomplishments. Premier modern jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis--the head of what has been labeled "New Orleans' first family of jazz"--has seen four of his sons--Wynton (trumpeter), Branford (saxophonist), Delfeayo (trombonist) and Jason (drummer)--become successful professional jazz artists in their own right. This fact was highlighted in 2011, when the Marsalis family was awarded the highest honor in Jazz--the NEA Jazz Masters--the first group award ever handed out by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Taiwan jazz lovers will be able to experience first-hand some of this family's talent when youngest son Jason Marsalis teams up with his father and the Ellis Marsals Trio to perform at the 2012 Taichung Jazz Festival, on Oct. 28, 8:20-9:30 p.m.

Born in New Orleans in 1934, Ellis was drawn to the bebop sounds of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at an early age. From here, his career as a jazz performer took him on a journey that ranged from a stint in the Marine Corps to collaboration with a variety of well-known jazz artists. His equally-important career as a jazz educator has included positions as director of jazz studies at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School, where he mentored famed artists like Harry Connick, Jr. as well as his musician sons, and 12 years as head of the jazz studies department at University of New Orleans. In 2008, he was also inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Although the youngest member of his family, Jason Marsalis got a very early introduction to music, starting with a toy drum set at the age of 3, followed by a real drum set and lessons with legendary drummer James Black at 6. By the age of 7, he was sitting with his father's jazz group and performing with brother Delfeayo. Later, following high school, he found himself collaborating with other jazz talents like pianist Marcus Roberts, sax player Joe Henderson, and Lionel Hampton. Also a vibraphonist, he has been heavily involved in a variety of styles from Brazilian to Latin jazz and jazz fusion, and released two albums under his own name.

In Taichung, Jason and his father will be performing with the other two members of the Ellis Marsalis Trio--saxophonest Derek Douget and bass player Jason Stewart, both broadly experienced and accomplished jazz artists.

The 9-day 2012 Taichung Jazz Festival is taking place between Oct. 20 and 28, 2-9:30 pm on weekends and 5-9:30 pm on weekdays, on and around Civic Square. For more Chinese/English information, check festival website http://www.taichungjazzfestival.com.tw and Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/taichungJAZZfestival, or call (02)2711-2320, ext. 108 for Ms. Tsao, ext. 116 for Ms. Chen and (04)2228-9111, ext. 25405-25425.

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